By Nancy Peevy | Interior photos by Chadwick Turner
A Man's Sanctuary
Design elements in this Fayetteville condo highlight the building’s origins as a church, the owner’s Catholic faith and his favorite singer
The skylight in Don Eldred’s living room once shone on an altar table. Formerly, the Fayetteville building housed St. Joseph Catholic Church, and the curved brick wall in Eldred’s living room framed the altar where the large skylight was designed to shine light on the sacraments. Consecrated in 1968, by the early 2000s the parish had outgrown the building on Lafayette Street in the historic Washington Willow neighborhood. After the parish moved to another part of the city, developers turned the building into a two-story structure with eight condominiums.
About that time, Eldred was looking for a low-maintenance home and liked the condominium’s location in the historic district near Dickson Street. “I also liked the uniqueness of the architecture as a conversion,” he said. “I looked at a lot of other condos before I bought this one, but it was the one that felt like home.”
Eldred purchased his two-bedroom, two-bath unit in 2005. In 2022, he decided to remodel the bathrooms and update the condo, so he turned to Table Setters, Inc. of North Little Rock and lead designer and owner Becky Charton and designer Heather Davidson. Charton is also Eldred’s neighbor, with her own condo in the building — just around the corner from her firms’ Northwest Arkansas office housed in the old public library.
Charton and Davidson set out to elevate Eldred’s condo and make it current. “We wanted it to have a simplistic and masculine style,” Charton said.
For Eldred, incorporating the building’s history as a church in the décor was important. “This is a former Catholic Church, and I’m Catholic, so the history of the place has a lot of meaning to me,” Eldred said. “When you first step into the unit, there’s a large painting of Jesus on the cross in the entryway and an era-specific modern crucifix. So, there are some pretty obvious references to the history of the building.”
The traditional Catholic blessing written in chalk on the entryway wall is another of those references. It reads “20+C+M+B+05.” When Eldred moved into the condo, he asked the pastor at St. Joseph to come and bless the home, and the priest made the inscription. The “20” and “05” represent the year the blessing was done — 2005. “There are two stories about what ‘C,’ ‘M,’ and ‘B’ mean,” Eldred said. “One is that it’s the names of the Magi. The other is that it’s Latin for ‘Christ bless this house’ — ‘Christus mansionem benedicat.’”
The color scheme in the living area is reminiscent of the Catholic liturgical colors. “It reminds me of the colors of the priests’ vestments — whites, green, aubergine or purple. The building is that ‘60s modern Catholic and the red brick walls of the building are visible in the unit, so you had red in the brick. The only color missing was green. So, (the designers) picked up on that, and green became part of the story in a green pillow and lamp,” Eldred said.
Carrying the history of the building throughout the home, a black and white painting of St. Peter’s Basilica by local artist Brad Williams hangs in the guest bath. It’s a reproduction of a section of the building’s colorful stained-glass window that depicts the famous basilica. In the living area, the art installation on the curved brick wall is reminiscent of the Holy Trinity because of its three panels,Eldred said.
As a spatial design firm, Charton and her team are committed to understanding their clients, how they live, their everyday habits and what they are passionate about. She said the Table Setters team knows “how to create for people and not strictly for design.”
“This is our lane,” Charton said. “We want to know what people love, and we’ll find a way to incorporate it into design. We embrace what people are excited about. If you’re excited about something, we can make it pretty and part of your home. That’s a challenge we’ll sign up for every time.”
In Eldred’s home that meant incorporating the building’s history into the décor. It also meant highlighting what a huge fan he is of the singer Elton John. “I’ve been a fan since I was 14 years old,” Eldred said. “The first concert I saw was in October 1974 in Hampton, Virginia, and in total have seen him 79 times in my life. I’ve seen his farewell tour show 40 times. It never grows old for me.”
So, Charton’s team made sure to include a framed collage of the singer’s last tour, complete with Eldred’s VIP passes and special edition album covers as well as other Elton John memorabilia.
As for the remodel, to elevate and update the condo’s design, the team added wallpaper in the dining room and redesigned and rebuilt the curved sofa along the living room’s curved wall. In the primary bedroom, they redesigned and rebuilt the headboard “to make it more exaggerated and raise the height, which made a difference in scale,” Charton said.
A new, flexible headboard in the guest room allows Eldred to push together the twin beds, mounted on industrial rollers, to create a king bed or have them separate, depending on his guests’ needs. The team also redid both bathrooms. Taking out a spa tub in the primary bath, they created a walk-in shower featuring a laser cut stone tile feature wall and a floating bench. They added storage space and walnut cabinets.
Charton’s team nailed it with the redesign, Eldred said, by featuring unique elements of his faith, honoring the history of the building and highlighting his love for Elton John. His home is unique and personal to him, and it suits him perfectly.